By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik at Home, LLC
Does your child love music?
Now is the time to do everything you can to foster musical growth!
In the early years, musical development is exponential.
In the first part of this series, we discussed dreaming big for our children because that helps us remember where they’re headed. It helps us move them forward along the pathway to musical success!
In my second post, we dove into ideas for getting our children involved in music from a young age.
Our third part of the series focused on giving our kids exposure to high levels of artistry so they can see what is possible for their own musicianship!
In this final post, I want to give you some super-charged encouragement!
When it comes to investing in our children’s musical growth, the key is to JUMP IN.
Don’t hold back.
Most importantly, don't give up when you feel discouraged.
The investment is worth it and then some for your child's lifetime.
How do you jump in and foster musical growth?
Three ways you can ensure your child has every opportunity to grow in musicianship in order to develop natural musical talent are:
1. Provide unstructured and structured musical play opportunities from age 0-7. Watch for readiness to begin studying an instrument.
Unstructured musical play involves weaving music into your child's day.
This includes activities as simple as singing songs as you're on the go, playing drums on pots and pans in the kitchen, or dancing to music together anytime you hear it playing.
These musical moments build your child's perception of how music is woven into the fabric of life.
Structured musical play begins the process of deepening your child's musical knowledge through educational activities.
Early childhood music classes are the best avenue for broadening your child's musical skills and securing a firm foundation in musical development.
Musik at Home classes provide a structured pathway for beginning musicianship.
If your child is showing signs of loving music, Musik at Home classes are your child's onramp to learning an instrument in the future.
The classes give your child a sense of rhythm, pitch, tone quality, focused listening skills for auditory development, coordination skills and so much more.
When your child is ready to study music at a higher level, private lessons or group lessons are the next step.
I'll need to dedicate an entire separate post to knowing how to decide if your child is ready for formal instrumental study. In a nutshell, desire is the first sign of readiness!
2. Encourage participation in group music making opportunities such as choir, musical theater productions, and musical camps.
Being a part of musical groups gives your child exposure to low pressure performance opportunities. This is a great way to see if performing is in your child’s DNA.
For many children, it’s an innate, natural desire that makes performing come easy.
For other children, performing may not be at the top of their list.
Groups provide the chance to perform without as much pressure while still allowing your child’s gifts to develop.
Exploring different avenues for making music can help your child decide which road to take. If your child loves to sing, choir may be the perfect fit.
If your child loves to act and sing, look for opportunities in musical theater. Theater companies often invite children to participate in their productions. There are also theater companies that are purely for children.
3. Don’t give up! Decide now that quitting is not an option. Anything worth doing requires patience, investment of time and resources, and plenty of encouragement.
There are days you’ll want to throw in the towel because it’s too much work for you. There will be days your child wants to throw in the towel because musicianship is hard work.
Sometimes the challenges in learning music seem insurmountable. Yet, when we stay the course, our children will benefit for a lifetime (and so will we!).
For us as parents, we are the ones who enable our children to succeed (or not succeed). They look to us for approval and sometimes for permission to stop.
There were many times I wanted to quit taking piano lessons as a kid because I could see all of my friends outside playing, while I had to stay inside and practice.
My mother was lovingly firm. She never let me quit.
Looking back, I couldn't be more grateful for her perseverance on my behalf.
My mom and my dad gave me the gift of music because they never stopped investing in my musical growth (despite my push back).
Now, it has become my life's passion to help others grow in musicianship.
And, with littles of my own, it's now my turn to uphold the "no quitting" rule...especially when the going gets tough.
When it comes to Musik at Home classes, my 4 year old finishes one and asks for the next one. She absolutely loves them! It is pure joy for her.
But, that's not the case with all of the music we are doing.
While we are doing Musik at Home classes, we are also introducing her to instrumental study because she is ready. She spends more than 30 minutes at the piano every day making up her own songs -- all on her own. Many of her songs are actually surprisingly good.
We have also introduced the violin.
She feels that it's much easier to practice the piano than the violin.
Often she will say, "I don't like violin! I don't want to play it anymore!"
I lovingly listen and respond with understanding, but I never let those words keep us from practicing.
It might just take a little incentive like a small treat or a sticker to bring the motivation needed to practice. Then at last we get the job done for the day. :-)
I am giving my girls as many experiences as possible to help them flourish in their musicality. They feel the hard work and they also feel the fun!
There's a give and take with music education -- it is a mix of fun and hard work.
Laying the groundwork with fun musical experiences in the early years is essential for helping your child embrace the hard work of learning an instrument when the time comes.
What is your approach to music education in the early years? How have you seen your child respond? What's your strategy for helping your child stay the course?